Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Non-Toxic Crayons

The second most popular question posted on the facebook natural toys buy/sell/trade group is regarding non-toxic crayons (the first is about play kitchens, and you can find my post on those here).  Time and time again, the moms there respond with the same #1 crayon recommendation.  Most commercial crayons are made with paraffin, a petroleum based wax that is not easily biodegradable, and others may have questionable ingredients.  In the past there have been recalls and warnings for lead, asbestos, and most recently, mercury in crayons.  Here is a list of brands made with safe, natural ingredients and beeswax or soy wax instead of paraffin.  It is worth noting that beeswax has greater durability than soy wax, so beeswax crayons are less likely to break.

[UPDATE: I am leaving this post as originally written with the exception of adding this.  While Stockmar may be highly recommended for being great crayons with vibrant color, they are, in fact, MOSTLY PARAFFIN.  I found this out after writing this post, and you can read all about my findings, my sincerest apologies, and more here.  Stockmar do NOT satisfy the criteria of being either "beeswax" or soy crayons in my mind, as they are only 10% beeswax, 52% paraffin and 30% plant based stearin wax.  According to their emails, the Artemis crayons contain NO BEESWAX AT ALL, despite being listed on what I believe to be their manufacturer's site as being "bound by beeswax."]

NO LONGER "HIGHLY RECOMMENDED" - see update directly above

Stockmar

The winner of all conversations regarding non-toxic crayons is always Stockmar.  Parents far and wide hold them in high regard, and with good reason.  Made in Germany, these beeswax crayons are unparalleled in brilliant, vibrant color.  They are available in blocks and the traditional crayon shape, in a variety of sizes and combination sets.  I cannot personally attest to the durability of the traditional crayons, but we have owned the blocks for over two years now.  They have been tossed repeatedly, and used frequently, yet not one has sustained a break, and I would say they have maybe 85% left to them, so I imagine they will be used for many years to come.  As long as you can manage to keep track of them, these crayons are worth every penny.  They are long lasting and have gorgeous color.


OTHER OPTIONS:

NOTE: I have no personal experience with these "OTHER OPTIONS"- I'm merely reporting my findings of other beeswax and soy brands.  Please see the "RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS, NOT RECOMMENDED and DIY" sections for input on others I have used.



Honey Sticks

These are made in New Zealand of beeswax and non-toxic pigments.  Their short, stubby shape is designed to give an easier grip for small hands, and also prevent breakage.  I just received email confirmation from Honey Sticks that no other waxes are used, and they are made with 100% beeswax.




Clear Hills Honey Company

USA made beeswax crayons that contain USA made non-toxic pigments and clays.  These crayons are made with 100% beeswax.




├ľkoNorm Nawaro Beeswax Crayons

Made in Germany of 25% pure beeswax and vegetable and plant based waxes, these crayons are free of petroleum.  They also contain oils and stearine, lanolin, kaolin and organic pigments.  These are more readily available in Europe and Australia, the crayons carried by Stubby Pencil Studio are the same crayons, they just have slightly different packaging.



Old Mill Candles (Etsy) Jumbo Handmade

These are made primarily with beeswax, with a little soy wax added and they are colored with food grade pigments.  The 8 colors (rainbow + black and brown) and handmade and come in this canvas case.

Wee Can Too Veggie Crayons

The general consensus about these crayons seems to be that they make an excellent first crayon for those concerned about children putting them in their mouths.  However, the colors and markings are not as great as other crayons, so these are great if your focus is primarily on ingredient safety.  They are made with organic soy wax and are colored with organic fruit and vegetable powders.  They are also made in the USA.



Artemis Plant Colour Pastel Crayons

According to this Mothering.com review, these are softer than traditional crayons and feel more like an oil pastel.  They have natural waxes and plant pigments and are made in Germany.
SEE UPDATE ABOVE!  THESE ARE NOT BEESWAX CRAYONS EITHER!



 eco-crayons by eco-kids®

These crayons are available in six colors, made in the USA with 25% beeswax and 75%  fruit, plant and vegetable extracts. 




Earth Grown Crayons on Etsy

These handmade crayons are made of soy wax and are tinted with non-toxic minerals and organic pigments.  They come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. 



RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS:

Brilliant Bee Beeswax Crayons by International Arrivals

These seem like they would be an affordable option, and were recently given to us by some wonderful friends for my daughter's birthday.  The colors are quite vibrant and beautiful, and while I cannot fully attest to their durability since we just received them days ago, they seem thick and strong and I don't foresee breakage to be an issue.  My only reservation is that they are made in China, and their ingredients are not explicitly noted.  I'm still waiting on a response from the company for more information, and will update if I receive any.

Faber-Castell Jumbo Beeswax Crayons

I have had some parents contact me and say that they love these crayons, and they are more affordable than some of their competitors.  However, I have been in contact with Faber-Castell and they have not been very forth coming with their ingredients, but at least they responded, unlike the the maker of the crayons directly above.  The most I got out of them is that they are made in China, the beeswax is sourced in China, and "the additional raw materials are palm oil based," but they do not contain petroleum/paraffin.  Something to consider is that like petroleum, palm oil comes with its own set of environmental issues like deforestation and the consequential diminishing orangutan population.  When I inquired about the pigments, I was told, "I am unable to provide that information as it is proprietary." 


NOT RECOMMENDED:

Crayon Rocks®

A great concept, but besides the fact that these need to be used with older children because they are a choking hazard (despite that they are designed to fit in very small hands), they are not impressively vibrant, and most importantly, these have been the least durable crayons we've owned.  I swear if you look at them wrong they will break!  In a matter of a few months we were left with nothing but shards.  Maybe if you had a much older child who could take good care of them, but again, these are very small so I'm not sure how ergonomic they'd be for a larger child. 



Clementine Art Natural Crayons

These soy crayons had great color, but again, broke very, very quickly.  Not durable and in my opinion, not worth the money.  They also make crayons in a rock shape, but given my experience with their brand as well as rock shapes of another brand, I'd be very skeptical about those as well. 


P'Kolino

When I contacted P'Kolino regarding more specifics on the ingredients listed as "color wax" and "natural ingredients" for these crayons that are advertised as "non-toxic" and touted that they are made in Europe, I received this response: "Here is the list of ingredients in our crayons: wax, metallic stearates, carbonates, polietilene, pigments" I pressed them about what type of wax, and got no response.  Upon further investigation, "polietilene" is polyethylene!  Not only is polyethylene petroleum based, but I don't know about you but I wouldn't want my child eating plastic if they happened to gnaw on it. 


DIY:

For those willing to try making your own, Wee Folk Art has a great tutorial.  I ended up having to make similar adjustments that are noted in the comments.  Unfortunately, it was long ago so I can't remember exactly what I did, but I believe it was that I had to add a little bit of water to hold the emulsion.  They came out decent, but I had to wait to use them until my daughter was a little older (she was only a year old) because they were harder than store bought crayons so you needed to apply more pressure.  I already had beeswax on hand, and any number of things can be used for molds, but I purchased this mold and it was very useful.  I figured it could be used for homemade candy in the future.  I didn't want to spend anymore money, so I used my mom's food dyes from her large collection for cake decorating.  However, there are natural pigments and dyes available if you're interested.  This is the photo of our results. 
 
 

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for including us in this awesome and informative post. I have used and loved many of the crayons you have listed above. To be perfectly honest, although it is fun to occasionally make your own crayons, and it is exciting for children to understand how things are made, the process is messy and time consuming, and with all the wonderful non-toxic and natural choices now available, I tend to buy ;)

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  2. Gosh, that has not been our experience with Crayon Rocks at all! We've found the colours vibrant and the way they glide on the page is lovely. Our kids prefer them to any other crayon (and we have all of the ones listed above). And our bag is still going strong after 18mths, with no breakages. Stockmar are great, agreed. But there are petrochemicals used in their production. They are not 100% transparent on that fact, but it's why they hold their colour and strength.

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    1. Thank you so much for the heads up on the Stockmar! We'll have to agree to disagree on the crayon rocks, as I feel that it's that ease of gliding that contributes to their breakage from their softness. I looked into Stockmar thanks to you, and have written a new post. I felt obligated to report my findings to everyone. Thanks again! http://themindfulhome.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-truth-about-stockmar-crayons.html

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    2. Good on you for researching this so fully. You got a little further than I did when I looked into it, so I must thank you for the information and bringing about a little transparency on Stockmar's behalf too! Awesome! xx

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  3. Thank you for bringing this information to light. I looked into some of these and noticed that they list "food grade pigments" on some of them. Were you able to get any better details on the pigments? petrochemicals are scary but food coloring has also been linked to ADD and several other childhood problems. Do you know if any of the brands that you would recommend avoid both petrochemicals and artificial food coloring?

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  4. I wouldn`t purchuse the Faber-Castell Beeswax Crayons, they've also refused to send me information about the ingredients. If it was positive, it would be a marketing advantage - right? I would be scared to let my child put these in her mouth. We are sticking to our well loved ├ľkoNorm Nawaro Beeswax Crayons!

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  5. The Faber Castell jumbo beeswax crayon MSDS is available at the Dick Blick's art supply site and it contains paraffin wax.

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  6. Thank you so much for this post! I found it when looking for a better natural crayon option after finding out that Stockmar crayons aren't as natural as I believed.

    However, I wanted to let you know that I too purchased the International Arrivals "beeswax" crayons and became suspicious about the ingredients when I noticed the box said "Made in China." I found this list of ingredients on the International Arrivals website:

    Crayon Wax Contains: Paraffin and Hydrocarbon waxes, stearic acid (pure), Talc (Mg3H2(SiO3)4), Hydrogenated Palm Oil, benzenamine (oxidized), Petrolatum, beeswax, Distillates (petroleum), hydrotreated light paraffinic, synthetic coloring.

    Not too natural, in my opinion.

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  7. this is a very interesting theme, especially in germany! ...sorry about my simply english! Okay, what I´ll say is, that there now is an new company in germany producing waxcrayons in high quality made from 25% beeswax and other waxes and resin from plants and natural and organic pigments. Without anx paraffin or stearinwaxes! A special pleasure is the shape of emmibee waxcrayons! You can use it as a pen but also to paint in flat. If interested see at www.emmibee.de. Pictures made from emmibee waxcrayons are shown at www.flickr.com/photos/emmibeecreative Very interesting and recommended!

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